Friday, July 25, 2008

Not the Usual...Dear John

Dear John
By Norma L. Betz
AuthorHouse
ISBN: 978-1-4343-1071-2

With a deep sigh, I closed Norma L. Betz’s first book, Dear John, having read it that day! What a delightful, satisfying read!

Actually, you might say that Dear John has a book within the book, for it includes many original letters from Abigail Smith Adams to her husband, who was then the second president of the United States, John Adams. What a wonderful way to share part of America’s history with readers!

The main thrust of the book is a love story, but not necessarily the usual one! Let me tell you a little about Susanna and Quincy... Susanna Smith is a professional woman who has created a rather insular life for herself...and her companion, Quincy. As an administrator at a college, she well knows that she should have already taken time off to attend to the estate of her late aunt, for whom she was named—Susanna Abigail Smith. But, in doing so, she would have to admit that she had trouble with delegation and had procrastinated leaving, even though she well knew that her staff could handle her department during her absence.

When Quincy realized that she was pulling her luggage out and getting ready to leave, he was quite concerned that he might be left behind. However, when his favorite blanket was placed by the door, he felt it best to stay right there and ensure he went with her! No, Quincy is not her pet. He is her only real companionand much of Susanna’s dialogue is directed to Quincy! It’s a fun relationship and readers will enjoy their sharing. As Susanna laments not having visited her aunt more often and not even knowing about her death until after her burial, it is Quincy with whom she shares her turmoil. It is he that gives her his unconditional love and support when she begins to realize that she has shut herself off from her family and even other friends.

Susanna’s arrival at her aunt’s home brings back many wonderful memories. But it is when she starts hearing the praises of her aunt from her lawyer, who had been in love with her, from his son and her co-worker that her pain and loss grows even worse. And when her aunt has left her a letter, along with the letters of her famous ancestor, she becomes enthralled with reading them even to the point of going to the library to read and research what was historically happening about which her aunt was writing.

The movement back and forth between the life of Abigail Smith Adams, through her letters, and Susanna’s is very well done and adds tension to the reading of both. Susanna reads of what Abigail is facing as the Revolutionary War is fought and then learns more about what was actually happening through visits to the library where her aunt was once the librarian.

At the same time, much is happening in Susanna’s life as she meets her own “John” and begins to care for him. Her life is turned upside down and is placed in danger because of what she finds there in her aunt’s historical home. The reader’s interest is sustained throughout as both the War is fought in 1775 and Susanna’s own internal struggles for her life begins.

Quincy hooked me in, the historical letters caught my interest, and the drama of Susanna’s new life turned each page. I enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to especially those interested in historical romance (although this isn’t a historical romance book).  Once you start reading the letters from Abigail to John Adams you’ll understand this reference!  By the way, the book includes footnotes and an extensive bibliography for the true historian.

Enjoy this one—I did!